The girls have been going through a bit of a “phase” lately that we’ve managed to pinpoint as a response to change. We went through something similar last year when they started kindergarten and a new pre-school. It involved things like throwing huge, uncontrollable temper tantrums, a serious amount of attitude, crying at the drop of a hat, fighting with each other (more than normal) and more. Since school has started back, they’ve reverted to this type of behavior and it’s created a significant amount of tension and stress within their mom’s house and my place that requires us to adjust our parenting style to cope with it.
I’ve noticed that when the girls have a significant shift in behavior like this, I’m pretty slow to catch on to the reality of what’s actually happening. My response to them has been to get louder, yell more, discipline more, take things away and the result is that we’re all miserable. Last year I found a way to deal with Elle’s tantrums (thanks to Annie) that forced me outside of my normal comfort zone and to meet their attitude and tantrums with a sense of calm and understanding (totally not my style). They were behaving poorly, but they were also feeding off of my negative energy and loud behavior. It was a vicious cycle. Once I broke it, things seemed to get back to normal and the girls responded much better than I could have imagined.
So here we are, a year later, going through a very similar thing, where the girls are overstimulated from school, their routine is different, they’re more tired and there’s lots more to be done.
Enter Dad Bucks and Mom Bucks.
Using a similar approach that the girls’ school uses (Bee Bucks) we’re setting up a rewards earning system that encourages good behavior and results in rewards. Last week I yelled at the girls that they should forget every getting candy or ice-cream again until they can learn how to behave. This was of course an out of control, gut reaction that I could never hold to. But then it hit me. What if the girls could earn those things? It’d be a positive way of reinforcing good behavior. It’d also be a similar system that seems to work pretty well for them at school. Coincidentally, Tracey was thinking of implementing a similar plan too.
As you can see above, the currency is there (I even made a Mom Bucks version with Tracey’s face on it). Trace and I agreed on a set of pillars that the girls can follow in order to earn their Mom/Dad bucks (Responsible, Respectful, Patient, Kind and Safe). I’ve also been giving them some ideas of things that will earn them bucks once we have the system set up, like helping mommy with the puppy or cleaning your room without being asked. Now all we have to do is start to execute the plan and stick with it.
I’m not exactly sure how this is going to work out, but as long as we keep it balanced and fair, I think the girls will respond positively to it. At that point, hopefully we’ll be able to get back to our normal routine and eliminate some of the stress that seems to accompany major changes for them. Fingers crossed that this works. My sanity needs it to work.